Excitement the goal for Waratahs rain, hail or shine

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

They whet fans’ appetites with their display against the Rebels and now Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper says they need to produce a scintillating show on home turf.

NSW plays its third home game of seven on Sunday, on what will be another rainy day, with a grinding win over the Force and a loss to the Brumbies to show for their Allianz appearances this season.

Hooper joked Sydney’s turned on Christchurch-like weather so far this season, but Sunday will be a test of whether the Aussies can adapt to the wet like the Kiwis so often do.

Most importantly, though, it’s a chance for the Waratahs to show their fans what they are capable of after a spectacular second half comeback in Melbourne.

“Playing our rugby is very exciting footy for the fans, we’ve just got to do it,” he said.

“We want to have fans go, ‘I can’t wait to watch these guys get the ball in their hands,’ and we love the fans when they get involved.

“We’ve got great fans, passionate fans, so yes we want to be able to play for them but we know to do that, it’s about doing what we talked about.

“The comeback added viewing, gave it that extra bit for viewers.

“That’s how we want to play, you look at our stats, you look at our metres, it’s sharing the workload and that’s Waratahs footy.”

Mack Mason is in line to replace Bernard Foley. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWhether they play the way they want will rest in many ways on the shoulders of rookie playmaker Mack Mason, replacing Bernard Foley in his Super Rugby debut, but Hooper has no qualms about his ability to bear that load.

“His control, his level head of the game, it’s been really pleasing to watch," he said.

“So, for him to get an opportunity and a rare opportunity at that with Nard being out for so many weeks, I’m really happy someone like him can step in and be confident and comfortable in the role.

“He’s had a tough background with his league and his 20s stuff last year for a smaller guy and I’ve been impressed with him and looking forward to seeing him play.”

One of the roadblocks coming across the ditch is flanker Matt Todd, the latest in a series of pilfering specialists, a skill that has disrupted the Waratahs, who lack a fetcher in their backrow.

“Everyone can pilfer the ball these days and so it’s about 15 men doing their job,” Hooper said.

“As cliche as it sounds, you’ve just got to clean out well and do it for the duration of the game.

“Otherwise, it’s going to cause you a lot of problems.”

The Waratahs take on the Crusaders on Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 4:05pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.